This article from The New Yorker, although long and somewhat challenging, should be read, digested, and discussed. It made my stomach churn by the time I got to the last paragraph. Here are some excerpts that will illuminate why:
In 2005, Hussein produced what is perhaps the most definitive outline of Al Qaeda’s master plan: a book titled “Al-Zarqawi: The Second Generation of Al Qaeda.” Although it is largely a favorable biography of Zarqawi and his movement, Hussein incorporates the insights of other Al Qaeda members—notably, Saif al-Adl, the security chief.
It is chilling to read this work and realize how closely recent events seem to be hewing to Al Qaeda’s forecasts. Based on interviews with Zarqawi and Adl, Hussein claims that dragging Iran into conflict with the United States is key to Al Qaeda’s strategy. Expanding the area of conflict in the Middle East will cause the U.S. to overextend its forces. According to Hussein, Al Qaeda believes that Iran expects to be attacked by the U.S., because of its interest in building a nuclear weapon. “Accordingly, Iran is preparing to retaliate for or abort this strike by means of using powerful cards in its hand,” he writes. These tactics include targeting oil installations in the Persian Gulf, which could cut off sixty per cent of the world’s oil supplies, destabilizing Western economies.
And later on in the article:
Hussein observes that Al Qaeda’s ideologues have studied the failure of Islamist movements in the past and concluded that they lacked concrete, realistic goals. Therefore, he writes, “Al Qaeda drew up a feasible plan within a well-defined time frame. The plan was based on improving the Islamic jihadist action in quality and quantity and expanding it to include the entire world.”
Al Qaeda’s twenty-year plan began on September 11th, with a stage that Hussein calls “The Awakening.” The ideologues within Al Qaeda believed that “the Islamic nation was in a state of hibernation,” because of repeated catastrophes inflicted upon Muslims by the West. By striking America—“the head of the serpent”—Al Qaeda caused the United States to “lose consciousness and act chaotically against those who attacked it. This entitled the party that hit the serpent to lead the Islamic nation.” This first stage, says Hussein, ended in 2003, when American troops entered Baghdad.
The second, “Eye-Opening” stage will last until the end of 2006, Hussein writes. Iraq will become the recruiting ground for young men eager to attack America. In this phase, he argues, perhaps wishfully, Al Qaeda will move from being an organization to “a mushrooming invincible and popular trend.” The electronic jihad on the Internet will propagate Al Qaeda’s ideas, and Muslims will be pressed to donate funds to make up for the seizure of terrorist assets by the West. The third stage, “Arising and Standing Up,” will last from 2007 to 2010. Al Qaeda’s focus will be on Syria and Turkey, but it will also begin to directly confront Israel, in order to gain more credibility among the Muslim population.
(For the entire article and the conclusion of the plan, go here.)